Heat beat Pelicans despite Butler injury

The Miami Heat, who lost star Jimmy Butler due to injury in the first half, held on to defeat the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 111-98 on Christmas Day.

New Orleans’ Zion Williamson, making his Christmas Day debut, produced his second double-double in two games this season with 32 points and 14 rebounds. Both were game highs, plus Brandon Ingram added 28 points.

Miami were led by Duncan Robinson, who secured 23 points and made seven of 13 three-pointers. Bam Adebayo contributed 17 points, and Goran Dragic added 18 points and a game-high of nine assists off the bench.

Butler, who suffered from stiffness in his right ankle, had six rebounds, five assists and four points in his 16 minutes of play. The Heat made it to the NBA Finals last season, but they were just 6-9 without Butler.

Miami also made a change in their starting line-up, as they chose to bench Maurice Harkless and elevate Meyers Leonard. Leonard scored nine points on three-for-five three-point shooting. Harkless did not score.

Avery Bradley, who won an NBA title last season with the Lakers, made his Heat debut and scored 12 points. The 30-year-old, who signed as a free agent last month, also hounded New Orleans’ JJ Redick, and managed to hold him to eight points and one-for-seven shooting.

Miami made just seven three-pointers in their opener, and yet they had seven in the first quarter alone against New Orleans. That level of scoring helped them to create their 29-26 lead at the pause.

New Orleans had led by as many as eight points in that first quarter, however, they gave up a 14-4 run. A run of eight from eight at the foul line enabled them to stay in the contest.

In the second quarter, Miami led by as many as 23 points but New Orleans closed with a 15-5 run which cut the Heat’s advantage to 66-53 at the break.

New Orleans continued to chip away at their deficit, assisted by Ingram hitting a three-pointer on the final play of the third quarter, to pause at 88-79. However, through the three quarters Miami had doubled the number of New Orleans’ made triples (14-7).

The Pelicans got as close as six points with 7:43 left in the fourth quarter, but the Heat held on by shooting 50.7 per cent from the floor for the game, including 16-of-37 from downtown (43.2 per cent).

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Source : Sky Sports